We’ve known fiery reliever Hunter Strickland would be joining the Mariners this season, but the announcement has come with a slightly surprising DFA casualty.
We outlined Strickland’s terrible 2018 and the potential for bounce-back he has in 2019 when his signing was initially uncovered by reporters, but a 40-man move was expected. Somewhat surprisingly, Kristopher Negrón survived the cut, in favor of a younger, injury-stricken righty in Max Povse. The 25-year-old Povse spent the majority of 2018 on the DL, being waylaid by a “shoulder strain” on July 15th that he would never return from. As recently as spring of 2018, Povse was the Mariners’ No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America, though that spoke mostly to the staggeringly thin nature of Seattle’s farm.
It’s been a disappointing couple seasons for Povse, who was acquired along with RHP Rob Whalen for C/OF Alex Jackson and LHP Tyler Pike after the 2016 season. Two years later, Whalen has been DFA’d as well, and while he cleared waivers, his future is unclear. In fairness, the other end of the deal looks little better, as Pike had a brutal year as a 24-year-old reliever in his fourth taste of AA for the Braves, while Jackson is a defensively-challenged backstop whose bat took a big step backwards in 2018 and now occupies a 40-man spot on a crowded Braves roster. Povse’s DFA, much like the surprising release of Tony Zych last spring, points to a potentially more serious injury, and that may give Seattle a chance at slipping the relatively talented righty through waivers. Povse posted solid numbers in AA-Arkansas and good strikeout numbers with shaky control in AAA-Tacoma, so it would behoove Seattle to earn another year with no time crunch to work with the 6’8 RHP. If not, Hunter Strickland will be the consolation prize.